Did you know that about 1.1 billion people worldwide use Microsoft Excel? 🤯
No matter how old Excel gets, people still stick to excel dashboards and use templates.
Some people use it for data entry, some for bookkeeping, and some for creating dashboards.
We wanted people to know how they can create Excel dashboards and keep an eye on business KPIs, so we did it.
In this article, we have brought to you a tutorial on creating an Excel dashboard and some of the drawbacks you should know about.
But before we start, here’s the TL;DR:
An Excel dashboard provides a comprehensive overview of KPIs and metrics using easy-to-understand data visualization elements.
These elements generally constitute graphs, pie charts, cohorts, tables, and interactive widgets.
In simple words, Excel dashboards are visual representations of large data tracks. It can help you create Static and Dynamic dashboards.
The only hindrance is, you should know how to use Excel to the fullest! Or else, this is how you will find yourself with Excel:
Below we have curated a step-by-step guide on creating a full-fledged dashboard on Excel.
Disclaimer: Although creating dashboards in Excel involves a heavy amount of manual work, it's worth the effort.
So, take a chill- 💊, be patient 🧘🏻♂️, and let's go.
Here’s a 5-step Excel dashboard tutorial you need to create dashboards in Excel as fast as possible.
Like there's no Hogwarts without Hagrid, there's no Dashboard without Data.
So firstly, we'll see how to import data to Excel.
Excel has a limited number of options to assist the data import process. But hopefully, you will find your preferred option among the few.
Note: If you have a well-organized dataset on another Excel sheet, you can simply copy and paste it.
However, if you are just getting started with the data collection process, here's how and where to begin.
Click on Data and choose.
Here, Excel offers your four options to import data:
The dataset you import is called Raw Data.
That's because the database is filled with extra columns, irregular decimal points, and raw numbers, which you ideally don't want on your dashboard.
You see, you only want that part of your database which you need to visualize on your dashboard – the heavy numbers, of course.
For example, we imported a short dataset from our Monthly Sales Report.
Tell Us: Among the Excel columns from A to E, which one would you prefer not to add to your dashboard?
To extract meaningful data, create another sub-sheet as Chart Tab and copy-paste the dataset from columns into it.
So now you have the dataset you want to visualize. Now let's start preparing this dataset for action.
Excel comes with several in-built tools to ease your data cleansing process. Click on Data, and you'll have the following options available.
Furthermore, use Excel formulas to simplify the raw database as much as possible.
Lastly, double-check the dataset for any typos or errors.
Once your dataset is cleaned and prepared for data analysis, it's time to add some visualizations.
For instance, If you want to visualize the Total Product Sold each month, you need an Excel chart, right?.
Here's how you can make one.
Select the dataset you want to visualize. Then, go to the Insert tab in the top menu bar and choose from Excel's in-built visualization gallery.
Suppose you opted for a bar graph to present the dataset. Here's how it will be presented.
Likewise, if you want to use a different type of visualization to present another dataset, let's say, Return Rate.
Follow the same steps; select the Month and Return Rate columns > Click on Insert > Choose Pie Chart from the visual element gallery. And voila!
Want to use a different type of dynamic chart?
Excel has tons of them, namely:
In the previous step, you learned to visualize data in different forms and figures.
However, keeping data and its visualization on the same sheet can be daunting later on. ☠
So to build a full-fledged Excel dashboard, create a sub sheet named Dashboard, and move all your data visualization to this sub sheet.
You and your team can use this sheet as the main dashboard. Doing this will also help you to:
And now to the final step – Customizations.
To start with customizations, Double-click on the chart you want to customize.
A drop-down menu appears on the right sidebar of your screen with the following options.
Use it to customize your chart title, data labels, colors, and data table via chart formatting options.
Note: You can also use conditional formatting for advanced customization options.
And that's it! Achievement unlocked! 🏆
You've created your first interactive Excel dashboard. 🎉
But as we said earlier, creating an Excel dashboard is a manual process, let’s understand what drawbacks you might face when tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) on Excel.
Have you seen an Excel dashboard before? 🤔
It's so clean and organized, with data on one sub-sheet and visuals on the other. And you probably think doing this is an easy task, just copy and paste, isn't it?
But very few know that creating this Excel dashboard took hours of manual work, hundreds of left and right clicks, and concentration hard enough to suffer eye pains and migraines. 🧠
It probably takes hours because Excel provides next to no automation.
Although at the initial stages of data extraction and cleaning, Excel has some features to remove duplicate data. But again, you're advised to double-check the dataset for errors.
For those unaware, in Excel, there's nothing like real-time. ⌛
Unless you're a developer who can connect Excel to a database and code all of the scripts and macros that automatically refresh your data, the data in your Excel spreadsheet will not be in real-time.
And this is a major drawback if we bridge it to creating dashboards in Excel.
You see, what's the purpose of a full-fledged dashboard if the data you're viewing is outdated?
Yet again, you need to suffer through manual processes to update the data repeatedly. And that’s easy, if you work like this 👇🏻
We compared Excel to other dashboard creation tools, and guess what? Excel needs to catch up on providing out-of-the-box customization options to users.
Yes, it does have customization options. But that's been the same way since 2006.
Moreover, the type of data visualization elements provided by Excel are rigid and limited.
Let's be real, you ain’t running a six-figure business without a team.
And that makes team collaboration a vital feature of any dashboard. But Excel simply doesn't foster collaboration.
Think about it: If you're using Excel as your main data dashboard and are sharing it with your team, it's challenging to manage the version of the Excel spreadsheet that everyone is seeing. This makes it more difficult to collaborate around the data because stakeholders may be looking at different reports.
Everything results in endless duplication of efforts, lots of unintentional manipulations, and a mess across departments.
This could be a bitter problem for gen z entrepreneurs who manage their businesses using their mobile phones.
Excel isn't mobile-friendly at all. 📵
Even if you manage to view your Excel dashboard using the XLCubed mobile app, the flexibility and responsiveness you enjoy in its web application aren't the same elsewhere.
Next, let’s go through some dashboard examples.
An executive dashboard is a dashboard reserved for the c-level executives or upper management of any organization.
These dashboards typically contain high-level information for leadership to quickly make accurate data-driven decisions. Apart from this, these dashboards also help executives to:
Apart from these metrics, some common KPIs can easily be found in an executive dashboard, such as gross profit margin, EBITA (Earning before interests, taxes, and amortization), ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), etc.
A financial dashboard depicts a company's overall financial health, some might even use it for financial modeling. It's generally used by CFOs (Chief Finance officer) or finance and accounting departments to visualize, monitor, and report a company's financial well-being to stakeholders.
The dashboard template we are discussing here focuses on rather granular metrics showcasing a company's core financial status. 💰
It uses comparative analysis to measure actual and forecasted financial results.
Forecasts are created at the start of the financial year and are normally updated every quarter. By creating a realistic forecast, a business can better understand if they are ahead or behind budget to where they would expect to be at that time of year.
Sales dashboards are essentially used by sales managers and c-level executives to get a comprehensive overview of their sales efforts.
These dashboards generally focus on monthly targets and sales pipeline; however, the content of a sales management dashboard varies from company to company.
But in the end, they all reflect the same thing - Sales.
The diversified roles and responsibilities a sales manager handles on a regular day are all tracking with a sales management dashboard.
Besides, the template also uses a ranking system (gamification feature added to dashboards to boost employee morale) to rank sales representatives based on sales generated and target achieved.
Since the advent of online marketing, the role of marketing professionals has diversified to a certain extent.
They need to track every trend, every competitor, and every penny spent on marketing campaigns.
Additionally, they need to analyze all the possible marketing metrics to figure out the most sought-after marketing strategy for the business.
This marketing dashboard template is the perfect fit for marketing teams.
A social media dashboard template provides insights into your social media performance.
This particular dashboard template has a classic grid layout allowing you to easily measure 10+ key social media metrics under one roof.
Moreover, under every metric scorecard, you can check the percentage growth in metrics compared to past performances.
Datapad is the industry's leading mobile-first KPI dashboarding platform that allows anyone to collect, monitor, and analyze crucial business metrics under single platform.
Unlike Excel, you won't need to write custom codes to import data (or worksheet) and keep it fresh by manually editing it until someone reviews it.
Our tool offers one-click integrations to top data sources, making it possible for literally anyone to connect and import data in real-time – absolute no-code.
Here's how you can quickly create a dashboard on Datapad without getting a migraine. 😷
Step 1: Choose how you want to import data to your dashboard: Manually or Automatically
Step 2: Check out our amazing gallery of pre-built data visualization elements and choose the best way to represent your data
Step 3: Share the live dashboard with teammates and stakeholders with a click
And that's it!
Both Excel and Datapad have a 5-step process to create dashboards but do you know where we save your time and effort?
In terms of automation. 🤖
Having said that, here're a few key features of Datapad which make it the best alternative to Excel dashboards.
You guys know how complicated it is to import data to Excel workbooks. The manual work just doesn't seem to end.
But not anymore.
With Datapad, you can automate the whole process of importing and preparing raw data for action. You can opt for our one-click integrations from top data sources to automatically import data to your dashboard.
Datapad offers a collaborative working environment even if you are miles apart from your team.
Our tool has an in-built collaboration feature that allows your team to communicate in real time simply by commenting under metrics.
Likewise, your teammates can continue the discussion under your comments until the team agrees or disagrees completely with you (Just like Twitter threads). 😉
Additionally, you can invite your teammates and stakeholders onboard via our one-click email invitations 📧 to your dashboard.
This is something that you can never expect when creating dashboards on Excel.
Excel won't send you any alerts even if the world goes down. 🔕
But we will 🔔
With our real-time alerts, you get to:
Pov: You don't have to keep checking your dashboard to avoid missing an important message or event. We're here to remind you.
Have you seen our gallery of data visualization elements? It's kind of WoW from the epiglottis.
We've tons of chart types, Excel tables, bar graphs, and custom widgets to help you create eye-catching dashboards.
Moreover, you can easily customize every section of your dashboard using our intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
That's right, just pick-hold-drop.
We won't mind if you use Excel dashboards. But we would definitely mind if someone (probably a young founder) takes a dig at you for using Excel.
So why not keep your raw data on Excel and let Datapad do the visual heavy lifting?
Sing up today to create stunning dashboards !